India and Pakistan is likely to sign a liberalised visa agreement when the home secretaries of two countries meet in Islamabad next month, external affairs minister S M Krishna told Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Making a suo-motto statement on Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari visit to India, Krishna said the two leaders (Manmohan Singh and Zardari) felt that priority needed to be given to issues of people-to-people contacts. “In this context, they decided that a liberalised visa agreement which has been worked out should be signed during the next meeting of the home/interior secretaries,” Krishna said.
The home secretary level talks between India and Pakistan, in the pipeline since December last, are likely to place in Islamabad by the end of May. Home ministry sources said Islamabad has been asked to give fresh dates for the talks - sometime after May 22 when the ongoing budget session of parliament ends.
Easier travel and visa procedures were aimed at boosting trade ties so that businesspersons from the two countries travel without hassles and do business. The proposal also includes non-business visas for divided families, particularly for those aged over 65 years, and for those wanting to attend marriages and funerals.
Krishna said Manmohan Singh and Zardari met for about 40 minutes for friendly and constructive discussions covering India-Pakistan relations, regional and global issues of common interest.
"The two leaders noted that there had been steady progress in the bilateral dialogue process which was resumed last year. The dialogue process will continue as planned in the months to come."